Sprouted Grain: Benefits, Preparation and Recipes

Sprouted grain – rich in food enzymes and natural vitamins – grows closer and closer to the mainstream as people across all walks of life search for a better way to incorporate wholesome foods into their diet on a regular basis.   While sprouting grain requires extra attention and, like many aspects of traditional foods, additional forethought and planning, the practice is worth the time and is easy to accomplish in your own kitchen, once you get the hang of it.

Sprouted Grain: Benefits

Sprouted grain differs from whole grain in three fundamental aspects: 1) sprouting activates food enzymes; 2) sprouting increases vitamin content, and 3) sprouting neutralizes antinutrients like phytic acid which bind up minerals preventing your ability to fully absorb them.  When examining the nutrient density of sprouted wheat to unsprouted wheat on a calorie-per-calorie basis, you’ll find that sprouted wheat contains four times the amount of niacin and nearly twice the amount of vitamin B6 and folate as unsprouted wheat; moreover, it contains more protein and fewer starches than non-sprouted grain and as a further boon, it is lower on the glycemic index making it more suitable for those suffering from blood sugar issues.

Furthermore, sprouted grain and sprouted flours – having been effectively “pre-soaked” do not need to undergo further soaking or souring and are therefore suitable for quick breads, cookies and cakes in a way that sourdoughs and soaked flours are not.  (Learn more about soaking grains, beans and legumes.) For those who do not wish to take the time or effort to sprout grain or mill flour at home, you can always purchase sprouted grain flour online (see sources).

Sprouted Grain: Preparation

While it may take a few days to sprout grain, it’s not as labor-intensive of a process as it might seem.   All grains and seeds can be sprouted following these basic instructions though the germination time may vary from grain to grain.  Take care to choose only organic, untreated grains as they tend to sprout more evenly and reliably.   In our kitchen, we sprout several cups of seeds at a time; however, you can sprout smaller amounts depending on your needs and how you will be using the grain.

How to Sprout Grain

  1. Start with clean grain, so take care in sorting through it to make sure all pebbles and grains with poor appearance are adequately removed.
  2. Rinse grains thoroughly.
  3. Add grain to a ceramic or stainless steel crock, pouring filtered water over the grain until the grain is completely submersed under several inches of water.
  4. Soak the grains overnight in warm water.
  5. In the morning, pour the grains into a fine mesh sieve and rinse them well.
  6. Throughout the day, rinse the grains multiple times taking care to stir them so all grains are rinsed evenly.
  7. Continue rinsing the grains for two to three days until the grains have sprouted to your liking.
  8. Rinse the grains one last time, drain them and either refrigerate them or dehydrate them to grind into flour.

How to Make Sprouted Flour

  1. Start with grain that has been sprouted for only a day or two – until the sprout barely emerges from the end of the kernel.  The longer it sprouts, the more difficult it is to grind and use in baking.
  2. Pour the grain into a thin layer on a mesh screen for your dehydrator and dehydrate at about 105 ° – 110 ° F until thoroughly dry.   Alternatively, spread it on a baking sheet and set it in an oven set to the lowest setting you can manage.   Note that sprouted grain dried in an oven has inferior baking qualities as compared to  that which is dried through the more reliably low temperatures of a dehydrator.
  3. Once the grain is thoroughly dry, simply add it to the hopper of your grain mill and grind as you normally would.

Sprouted Grain: Uses

We don’t eat much grain in our home, but the grain we do eat is mostly sprouted and we only use sprouted flour either prepared according to the directions above or purchased from a reliable source.  Sprouted grain can be eaten in its raw form, cooked or ground into flour and baked as previously mentioned.   Take care to note, however, that cooking damages the grain’s micronutrient profile as many of its vitamins are fragile and not heat stable; however, sprouted flour still packs a more comprehensive nutritional punch than regular wholemeal flour and is significantly easier to digest.

Sprouted grains and sprouted seeds can be delicious when eaten raw and otherwise unprocessed.   Try serving it raw as a salad and gently seasoned with salt, pepper, unrefined olive oil (see sources) and a squeeze of lemon.   It’s also tasty mixed in with other vegetables in salads or served on sandwiches.

You can also eat sprouted grain cooked or baked in addition to raw.   While cooking i lacks live food enzymes, it is still easier to digest than unsprouted grain and many of grains inherent antinutrients like phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that our largely neutralized by the soaking and sprouting process.   Sprouted flour can be used in a 1:1 ratio for white flour or whole grain flour.   Sprouted grain is also well-suited to porridges and warm breakfast cereals.

Recipes